Husband Material

How I Stopped Getting Into My Husband's Recovery Work Instead Of Doing Mine (with Tera Brown)

July 08, 2024 Drew Boa
How I Stopped Getting Into My Husband's Recovery Work Instead Of Doing Mine (with Tera Brown)
Husband Material
More Info
Husband Material
How I Stopped Getting Into My Husband's Recovery Work Instead Of Doing Mine (with Tera Brown)
Jul 08, 2024
Drew Boa

Tera Brown went from trying to fix her husband's sex addiction to finding herself, her emotions, her boundaries, and her sacred ground. In this episode, you'll learn what it looks like to heal from relational trauma and feel alive in your body.

Tera Brown is a trauma-informed life coach trained by APSATS (Association of Partners of Sex Addiction Treatment Specialists). She woke up from a lifelong pattern of avoiding her emotions when her husband disclosed his sex addiction after 16 years of marriage. Tera and her husband have now been married for 29 years.

Tera specializes in helping women and couples create personal safety, emotional sobriety, and peace. Learn more about her coaching practice, support groups, and online classes at coachtera.com.

Interested in Tera's experiential retreat?

Check out La Loba: The Woman Who Knows

Next retreat: October 18-20, 2024 in Smithfield, Utah

Mentioned in this episode:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (paid link)

Come to our free online workshop:
HMA In A Day on Saturday, July 13!
Sign up now at husbandmaterial.com/workshop

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Tera Brown went from trying to fix her husband's sex addiction to finding herself, her emotions, her boundaries, and her sacred ground. In this episode, you'll learn what it looks like to heal from relational trauma and feel alive in your body.

Tera Brown is a trauma-informed life coach trained by APSATS (Association of Partners of Sex Addiction Treatment Specialists). She woke up from a lifelong pattern of avoiding her emotions when her husband disclosed his sex addiction after 16 years of marriage. Tera and her husband have now been married for 29 years.

Tera specializes in helping women and couples create personal safety, emotional sobriety, and peace. Learn more about her coaching practice, support groups, and online classes at coachtera.com.

Interested in Tera's experiential retreat?

Check out La Loba: The Woman Who Knows

Next retreat: October 18-20, 2024 in Smithfield, Utah

Mentioned in this episode:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (paid link)

Come to our free online workshop:
HMA In A Day on Saturday, July 13!
Sign up now at husbandmaterial.com/workshop

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Husband Material podcast, where we help Christian men outgrow porn. Why? So you can change your brain, heal your heart and save your relationship. My name is Drew Boa and I'm here to show you how let's go. If you are a man outgrowing porn or the girlfriend or wife of a man outgrowing porn, this episode with Coach Tara Brown might be really, really helpful for you. Tara is APSATS trained. She's trained by the Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists, and she is really gifted and skilled specifically at helping women build safety, get in touch with their bodies, connect with God and ultimately find your true self, which is so powerful. And I think you're going to love hearing her story coming out of her own betrayal trauma and her own work that she continues to do and the way that she's helping others. Enjoy the episode. Welcome to Husband Material. Today I am with Tara Brown, who is an intuitive life coach whose passion is to help women heal after betrayal and trauma. Welcome to the show, tara.

Speaker 2:

I'm so excited to talk to you today. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

I am excited too. What do people need to know about you?

Speaker 2:

I am excited too. What do people need to know about you? Let's start at the top. I'm a wife of 29 years and a mom of four adults. My youngest just turned 18 this last week, so now I can say I have four adults. This is so weird, but so that's first and foremost. And I love, love, love to help and support women who've experienced betrayal in their lives too, and their families. You know, but mostly I help and support women who've experienced betrayal in their lives too, and their families. You know, but mostly I work with the women who've experienced that to heal, to come back, to find themselves again and always, always connecting with God.

Speaker 1:

Tara, our topic today is how to stop getting into my husband's recovery work instead of doing mine. What does that mean?

Speaker 2:

So when I tell my story, I love to tell that this is part of it. When my husband shared with me all of the things that he did on the first disclosure, I kind of went into panic mode because I knew how to manage people. That was what I got taught at home by my parents, like how to manage them, how to manage me, my siblings I'm the oldest, so I learned really well how to read the room, how to know what to do, and it was my job to fix so that I felt more comfortable, more safe, right. So when my husband told me that he had these issues and that he wanted to go and get help, I was like, sure, let's go do that, let's go fix you. And then we found these retreats and he said, okay, I think I want to go to this retreat, but there's one for wives if you want to go. And I was like, yes, I want to go because I want to learn how to fix you.

Speaker 2:

I didn't even know at the time. I didn't know about my management. I didn't know anything about myself. Honestly, I didn't know how to feel my emotions. I didn't know what they were, what they were trying to tell me. I didn't really know me. I'd spent so many years of my life managing all the people around me that it was an easy thing for me to just say, oh yeah, let's go do that and I'll learn how to fix you, and then everything will be good again for me. And I think that includes a lot of things, and I did a lot of them putting books on his nightstand, sending him articles and podcasts that I thought he should listen to, all of the things that I just was trying really hard to manage him and his recovery be better. And I learned really fast that that wasn't part of my work, that my work was really to manage me, to learn what I'm about, to learn what makes me feel happy and healthy, and when I'm that way, then we come together as a better, stronger couple.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, in the past, unfortunately, in this field of porn and sex addiction. In the past, unfortunately, in this field of porn and sex addiction, there has been the idea of co-addiction and that partners are somehow, at least partially, to blame for their husband's behavior.

Speaker 2:

Right, and so, as we're talking about this, I wonder if some people might be thinking wait, are you saying that part of what your husband did was your fault for trying to manage him Right? And I hear that question a lot and I appreciate it because it gives me a chance to say no, I'm not going to take responsibility for anything that he does. Those are his choices and his actions and the way that he copes and deals with his pain and his trauma. It's not my fault that those things happen, but the way that I come into our relationship can certainly help. That makes sense.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, and sometimes the guys who listen to this show are wishing and hoping and praying that their girlfriends and their wives will begin to do their own work. Right, but is it really fair to assume that everybody has pre-existing issues that they need to work on?

Speaker 2:

I'm going to say everybody had a life before, and so we all have different ways, patterns, that we react and different ways that we handle things and different ways that we answer questions or that we defend. We all have a wounded self and we all have survivor strategies that we take on.

Speaker 1:

That's so true and I do feel comfortable saying everybody has trauma of some kind, right.

Speaker 2:

People don't like to admit that, though. Yeah, people are like oh, I never have trauma because I didn't have this big thing or this big thing.

Speaker 1:

What does it look like for you and the women you work with to start that journey?

Speaker 2:

It feels really overwhelming at first. It feels like I have to know all the things all at once. And so how fast can I learn this so that my family can get back on track and we can get back to our happily ever after, right? And then usually it turns into hypervigilance, which is what I like to call detective mode, where I'm going to go and find all the evidence that he's not, that he is looking at porn or that he's not you know where he says he's going to be, and I'm going to find all of the reasons why he's slipping. And I'm going to and I'm going to find out. And well, I know we do that to make ourselves feel safe too, cause if I know what it is, then I know what I'm facing. But we make up stories about the things that we find and we we don't know what we're looking at and we assume the worst in all of the cases when we're traumatized right, right, and so that's a very natural and normal reaction.

Speaker 2:

Totally, which is why, when we start talking about boundaries boundaries with yourself around, what you're going to go looking for and what you're going to do when you feel overwhelmed. So when I'm in overwhelm, what I do is take a deep breath and call a friend. I don't go searching the internet for all of the places he's been in the last 24 hours.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, on your first retreat that you attended, what did you realize about yourself?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I went there. I totally went there. In fact, one of the first questions I said is why are you here? And I literally said to fix my husband, to find out what I need to know so that I can make my family stronger because I'm going to make it that way right To know what I need to know, to help him. And at the end of three days they asked again why did you really come? And I said, oh, I found myself here. I found my emotions, I figured out what they feel like in my body and what are my next steps. And it was such a beautiful experience, I know it's why I'm so passionate about inviting other people to do it.

Speaker 1:

And that's why I am extremely encouraged to hear about your retreats. La Loba, the Woman who Knows, when you are now leading retreats, what happens for the women who come.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so we actually got back last week from a retreat and I love I swear I don't know probably 500 messages on our WhatsApp group since then of women, just like I can't believe. I had this really hard conversation with my husband and it was so connecting and I feel so much closer to him now. Or, I know what to do now when this, when my daughter comes in and I find out she's been drinking, and I have this plan now in place of what to do, how I'm going to react and how I can make the situation better for all of us by staying in myself and not, as my son calls it, dipping your fingers in someone else's glass. He's always like stop dipping your fingers in my glass.

Speaker 2:

I'm like that's a really gross analogy, bud, but I'm like okay, but it's true, when we stay on our own side of the tennis court, there's so much strength and power and these women go home. They know what it feels like to just stand in there. We like to call it on your sacred ground. You find what it feels like for you on your sacred ground and then, when you feel off of it, you know what to do to get back on so that you don't have to be out there managing or searching or, yeah, wondering what's going on. It's a lot of power inside of you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you talk about four areas of healing. What are those?

Speaker 2:

I call them PEMS, so physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, and I think that we have to heal on all four of those levels in order to truly heal.

Speaker 2:

Because most of the time we go to the doctor and we heal physically, or we go to the therapist and we get our mind and our stories straight and we heal mentally right, or we do something else, or we just get to our knees and we pray Most often that's the biggest one, right we just fall to our knees and we go to church and we just get right with God and we think I'm trying so hard, what is up? Why do I still feel not balanced? So I like to say, these four levels are like four legs of a chair, and when I overbuild one, it's super strong and there's nothing wrong with that, but then the other three are like dry spaghetti noodles, and so I have one fence post and three spaghetti noodles and I'm still not. I'm not going to feel balanced in my chair, and so I think we need to, I think we get to pay attention to each one of those areas so that we feel more balanced, more whole.

Speaker 1:

Can you share a story of one of your processes or one of the things that has been impactful for you? That really encapsulates those four areas?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, actually, let's talk about the sacred ground, because I think that that kind of encompasses all of them. So it's part of a larger process, and I know that you at your retreat do something called psychodrama and we call it a lot of different things, right. But the way that we lead into it is by teaching the woman what it feels like in her body to be grounded, to be on her sacred ground, to be connected with her highest self. And so we practice. We actually have a mat they stand on and then we have them stand off and we practice and we talk back and forth about what does it feel like now and what does it feel like when you and what does that look like? But really, what does it feel like you and what does that look like? But really what does it feel like?

Speaker 2:

And on your sacred ground, you feel connected to God and your highest self and you feel connected to your body and in tune with what's going on and you can read the signals, right, and when you're off, you don't.

Speaker 2:

You feel panicked and overwhelmed, you feel disconnected from God or even want to hide right, like a lot of times we just were like, oh nevermind, he won't even care or even want to hide, right, like a lot of times we just were like, oh, nevermind, he won't even care and I'm so far down the role now that I'm going to just hide from him.

Speaker 2:

So we disconnect ourselves oftentimes.

Speaker 2:

I don't think that he leaves us.

Speaker 2:

I think we definitely shut the door and say no, don't need you right now, and so, starting off the psychodrama process with that, then it's really easy to say, okay, where do you feel off your sacred ground in your life and how can we help you to figure out what it feels like in your body, to get that win, so that you know, moving forward, how to make a different choice, because this situation, whatever it is, that you're going through right now. This last week we had a lady I actually created this process right in front of her where we talked about the drama triangle and this persecutor in her life and a victim in her life and how she wanted to rescue everyone, and we worked through it to the point where she knew what it felt like to stand outside and let them figure their stuff out, and the feeling in your body is so different and so many women this last week have said I remembered what that felt like, and I just stood still and listened to what God had to say to me and I did something different.

Speaker 1:

Yes, it sounds like much of your journey is coming into connection with yourself.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, with your body honestly, and I think that the guys who listen to this podcast will understand. But I grew up in a home where my mom and I love her to death, but she grew up with an addict father, so she knew that pattern very well. She taught me very well how to numb, avoid deny, and my drug of choice isn't pornography. But I have plenty of vices, plenty of ways to avoid right, plenty of unhealthy ways to not look at. So I was so disconnected from what was going on inside of me because I just spent my whole life numbing. That is the biggest key to me is figuring out, because it's something I like to say. We're spiritual beings having a physical experience. If our bodies are that important that we actually need them as part of our existence, let's use them to figure out what's going on. Instead of avoiding or running away from and numbing, let me figure out how I can use my body to figure out if this is a good idea for me or not.

Speaker 2:

If this is a good conversation to have, or not?

Speaker 1:

So you're able to access your body, your mind, your emotions and God. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and so we go back to that. Then all four layers of my chair, all four legs of my chair, feel solid. I trust myself, which is truly where it comes back to. When I trust myself, I know how to move forward and I can trust myself in relationship to my spouse because I already trust me and I'm not leaning on him. To create that trust for me Doesn't mean he doesn't need to do things that are trustworthy, right? I'm not saying that I'm like oh, you can do whatever you want because I trust me. Actually, a lot of times, what happens is, because I trust me and because you're not showing up, there seems to be even more of a division. Right, because I don't feel safe.

Speaker 1:

I'm sure we have some guys listening right now who are thinking my wife needs this. She is getting into my recovery work, she's dipping her finger in my water. She's not standing on her sacred ground. How would you respond?

Speaker 2:

You know, here's the thing. I'm going to tell you how it happened for me, if that's okay. So my husband's the one who came to me and told me what, what he was experiencing, about his addiction, about his acting out, about what he was looking at. And then he found a therapist for himself. And then he found a group and he said I'm I want to go to this couple's counselings. You know, I would love for you to come with me. And he invited me into doing my own work, but into doing work with him, alongside of him, and that's the best way to do that.

Speaker 2:

I tell people that all the time is to invite them. Don't tell them you have to, you have to do this or we're over right. None of that have to is going to work. The best way to do it is to say I really care about you, I want this to work, I want to figure this out. Come with me and let's figure it out together. Let's be on this journey together. Let's stop doing this parallel thing, Even if it's, you know, far, far away. Let's reach hands across the abyss and figure out how to work together instead of fighting each other through this.

Speaker 1:

And that's what got you into this Exactly. Yeah, tara. Recently I've been hearing some guys say that they feel really confused and discouraged at the way their wives are speaking with them, or just how closed off they seem, and when I hear those stories I'm like I wonder how much of that is the trauma that these men have caused, right, and also how much of that is something that men can let go of or maybe have to set their own boundaries about.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I actually agree. I'll say this A lot of times when we're hurting, we use anger. It's called a cover emotion for a reason. It hides a lot of things underneath. So, even though anger isn't truly socially acceptable, it's more socially acceptable than some of the things that lay underneath it, which include disappointment and confusion and hurt and you know just overwhelm and all the things, but they come out as anger.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Hurt people, hurt people.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

And it's really easy to lash out, especially because you're the one who made me hurt. So of course it makes sense to me in my wounded brain that I'm going to want you to hurt too, because oftentimes what happens is husbands tell their wives what's been going on and they spill their guts and they, like, leave everything raw and open in the middle, and then they start to feel better because they don't have to hold that in anymore, they don't have to spend all their energy holding it in Right, and so it feels like a relief. Oh my gosh, now she knows, now I don't have to hide this from her anymore, and so. But that is confusing, because why in the heck are you feeling relieved? And now I'm a puddle on the floor, and that's why I think a lot of times it takes mediation and it takes like work for both of you to figure out how you're feeling and how to move forward in the relationship, if that's what you want to do.

Speaker 1:

Tara, what is one?

Speaker 2:

powerful story of your healing.

Speaker 2:

I think that for me, finding myself has been a journey of 13 years and I love to say I'm not totally fixed, I'm not perfect.

Speaker 2:

I love to say I wake up every morning and I think, well, not perfect yet still here, but the fact that I know what boundaries are at this point, that I'm so passionate about helping other people figure out, because I thought boundaries meant you can't do that and you have to do this, and you need to be home at five and I need you to do this and show up in this way and that's how you're going to love me.

Speaker 2:

And now I know that a boundary is what I do when something happens, so when I feel overwhelmed or when I need to have a hard conversation and I can have my feelings about it. But if I'm going to be clear, I get to be in touch with me and what I need and what I want, and I never, ever knew what any of that was before I started my healing work. So in a lot of ways, I love to say I'm so thankful for that morning all those years ago when my husband told me all the things that he did, because I have found me and I'm like so. I'm the biggest success in my healing because I know who I am now. It's amazing.

Speaker 1:

Praise God. Yeah, it gets me so fired up, I love it. I see a lot of parallels between healing on both sides.

Speaker 2:

Yes, because it's healing right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you talked about how your husband invited you to this work. How can men support our partners to do their own work?

Speaker 2:

Okay. So one thing that my husband actually did was made an appointment with my therapist and he asked that question and he said I'm not here to process me at all, but I want to know what I can do to help her on her healing path. And I thought that was like it actually made me feel so good that he cared about me enough to ask what he could do to help me, because he was working so hard on himself and doing so many things and there were honestly, lots of nights where I was home alone because he was going to group or he was going to therapy or he was at a meeting and and we needed that, we needed that stability and that security. Right, I needed him to do his work and he needed to do it too. But the fact that he took time out of that in the messy middle to go and ask what kinds of things would help me was really, really affirming to me and my pain and my healing.

Speaker 1:

I hear you saying that probably the best thing we could do is actually ask Right, instead of assuming that we know.

Speaker 2:

Don't start me on assuming that's my favorite book. The Four Agreements is one of the first things that I ask all of my clients to read the Four Agreements because they're so powerful. Can I run through them fast?

Speaker 1:

Yes, please.

Speaker 2:

Okay, be impeccable with your word, because your word is so powerful, you use it to create every day your mood, the things you want. Like we can manifest things with our word. It's that powerful. But he also says it's powerful enough that gossip he calls black magic, because you can use your words to tear people down too. So you have to be careful how you say things and what you say.

Speaker 2:

The next one is don't take anything personally. So, oh my gosh, I used to hate it when I would say, well, this and this, and my husband would say it's not all about you, and I'd be like what it affects me, it's 100% affects me. But he was right, it wasn't about me, it was about him and what he was doing. But did it affect me? Absolutely. But when I take it personally, I make it about me and then, in my case, for sure, it's my job to fix and then I take over his work again. Right? And the third one is don't make assumptions. And assumptions is because if I assume what I think you're saying, if I assume that I know why you said it, if I assume that I know where you're going, I don't have to ask any questions. We don't have to have a conversation because I made it up on my head and my brain believes my voice more than anything else, because it makes sense to me, it's logical, because I made it up. So conversation is gone, if I'm assuming right. And then the last one is always do your best.

Speaker 2:

And I love to say your best looks different every day. The first nine months after my husband told me everything, I watched the OC and every ounce of chocolate I could find. I laid in my bed for nine or 10 hours a day. That was the best I had. I literally remember looking at the clock and thinking he'll be home soon. I better have a shower and just get my butt in gear so that these kids have something to eat, like I was at the bottom. But my best looks different now. And some days I need a nap and that's okay, and some days I can just go strong for all the time. But your best looks different every day and when you judge your today's best against yesterday's best, you're just taking away from yourself. So I love the four grains. Yeah, when you say anything about assuming, that's where I go. It's a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. It's a must read.

Speaker 1:

Good to know. I'll put the link for that in the show notes. Perfect, how can Lolova help?

Speaker 2:

I love to say the weekend is like getting six months of therapy at once in a weekend, and this next time will be our 10th time of running the weekend. But it is. It's magical and it will open you up to you and your healing, which is really all we can ask anybody for. But there's so much power in that for you, cause you, you leave, not really on a high, but you leave like so connected to you that you can't deny what your work is.

Speaker 1:

Leave like, so connected to you that you can't deny what your work is. That's so phenomenal. And you also have a support process for people after the weekend, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so we have a group that meets weekly after that and I also run other classes and I have one called Braving Betrayal. So we have a bunch of different options for women to to get into their stuff and to really face like face the betrayal instead of just oftentimes women just want to work around it. They don't want to really look at it, they just want to skirt around it because it's painful to look at. But the best way through is is to say it. Say it and to feel it and to learn what you want to do after that.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Tara. What's your favorite thing about healing?

Speaker 2:

I love to watch when the light bulb goes on and people just feel complete inside themselves and it's just like it lights me up like nothing else. I come home from retreats completely exhausted and completely on cloud 12. I can't deny that it fills me up and it connects me to God even more every time, because I just am in awe of how he does his work.

Speaker 1:

I love even seeing the change on someone's face or their posture, or being more confident in their voice, or being able to own my feelings, being able to respond instead of react, and realizing I'm more broken and beautiful than I imagined.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, yeah, we actually started taking before pictures, like when people show, like when they come on Friday, we take a picture of them and then we have pictures at the end on Sunday during our celebration and movement and connection with God moment. And it's amazing to see the difference. And I swear some ladies live two inches taller and some leave like it feels like they lost 50 pounds and they just, they like, leave the weight of the world in the fire and just go home and love their families.

Speaker 1:

Amazing and, guys, you can find all of the information about Coach Tara and La Loba retreats in the show notes for this episode. Tara, thank you so much for sharing your story and this wisdom.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, drew, it's fun.

Speaker 1:

It really is Gentlemen and ladies who might be listening. You are God's beloved. In you he is well-pleased.

Women Healing After Betrayal and Trauma
Discovering Boundaries in Healing Journey
Supporting Partners in Healing Journey
Transformation Through Healing Retreats

Podcasts we love